Team and approach
With all these challenges—pandemic limitations, system integration with old and new equipment (especially specialized equipment lacking current security and communication technology), SCADA and HMI requirements, more than 20 suppliers, and cybersecurity demands—Zendal knew they needed to work with a versatile, quick, and flexible technology integrator.
They found the perfect partner in Optomation Systems, based in Madrid. With extensive control experience for other pharmaceutical companies, they are well known for their flexibility. Optomation took a close look at the requirements and recommended the Opto 22 groov EPIC system and Inductive Automation’s Ignition SCADA. Opto 22’s official representative for Spain and Portugal since 1997, Optomation is also a certified Gold Level Integrator for Inductive Automation.
To meet committed start-up dates, Zendal formed a single integrated team that would meet only virtually. The team consisted of key staff from their own Engineering, Maintenance, and IT departments, and key staff from Optomation.
System hardware was installed, wired, and checked in suppliers’ workshops before being transported to the site where it was installed and connected to the company’s network, allowing specialist engineers to connect all the way from Madrid.
As Covid-19 continued to spread, key workers became infected and unavailable to work. It was the perfect storm of challenges for supplying a high-profile industrial automation project. For those involved, it would be the most difficult automation project of their careers.
The choice: groov EPIC and Ignition
Opto 22 hardware and software are developed and manufactured by Opto 22 in Temecula, California, in the U.S. The company’s flagship product groov EPIC combines an advanced hardware platform, lifetime warranty on most I/O, security features, and embedded application software to handle any modern industrial automation or IIoT project.
The groov EPIC hardware price includes access to software with no hidden surcharges like number of tags, size of database, number of devices used, or annual license fees.
Opto 22 provides all software updates as new firmware without charge. Two main alternatives are included for programming real-time control applications: its own PAC Control and CODESYS, the IEC 61131-3 programming tool for more PLC-oriented applications.
Another reason for choosing Opto 22: the company was one of the few control suppliers still able to ship product during the pandemic. In its nearly 50 years of history, Opto 22 has never subcontracted production overseas to reduce costs. They continue to design, manufacture, and distribute from their factory headquarters in the U.S.
Due to the pandemic, Zendal was classified as a priority one customer, and batch shipments of required hardware were airfreighted to Spain in less than two weeks from order entry.
For Zendal, groov EPIC processors were supplied with 16-module chassis racks, allowing expansion up to 384 hardwired I/O, unlimited remote I/O, and data from externally connected PLCs or other intelligent devices.
All processors can share data using peer-to-peer communication over the Ethernet network.
Ignition software is developed and marketed by Inductive Automation in Folsom, California, in the U.S. It is regarded as the most complete and advanced distributed SCADA software in the market, used by over half of America’s Fortune 100 companies, in distributed manufacturing, industrial automation, process control, utilities, and transport infrastructures.
Unlike competitors’ products, Ignition can be scaled up without additional charges. The software runs on various operating systems and hardware platforms and includes drivers to connect virtually any industrial hardware or software. The company does not charge for connecting additional devices or tags to the servers.
Similarly, Ignition’s Visualization HMI module has no charge for added users. Zendal currently has between 30 and 60 clients connected simultaneously to the system, which in time will probably increase to over 150 simultaneous users.
Opto 22 provides both Ignition EDGE and Ignition Standard software products embedded in groov EPIC controller firmware for optional activation and licensing. Network problems are avoided because the SCADA data collector is fully integrated in the same controller hardware, simplifying communication and creating a secure connection between them in a single hybrid system. For the pharmaceutical industry, the importance of this combined solution cannot be overestimated.
When Optomation and Zendal chose Opto 22 and Inductive Automation for the system, they knew that the hybrid solution and guarantees offered by groov EPIC and Ignition ticked all the boxes they needed:
- Network efficiency
- Ease of upgrading
- Rapid system growth
- Remote development and testing
Security: requirements met
groov EPIC process controllers use a crypto-signed industrial runtime version of Linux, supplied and maintained by Opto 22. A crypto-signed operating system cannot be modified or substituted by a third party, eliminating the possibility of obtaining system access through contaminated updates or patches. (Learn more about cybersecurity in groov EPIC.)
Traditionally, integrating any process control system with a SCADA product requires protecting not only both systems, but also the network connections between them. But because groov EPIC runs control software and SCADA software in the same hardware platform, communication between them is internal and protection is built in. Both Opto 22 and Inductive Automation promptly address vulnerabilities, and Opto 22 provides a free groov EPIC firmware revision to resolve them.
Communication between any client and the groov EPIC server requires only a web browser on the client and is encrypted using a secure channel to protect sensitive transaction data. groov EPIC’s configurable internal firewall defines which applications can be externally accessed and which network hardware interface each application uses.